Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Understanding growing drug crisis in America

If you browse articles on this blog, going back to 2008, you'll see that my focus has been on urban poverty and its causes, and on volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs as part of the solutions.

Today my Twitter feed included this post.
The maps in this post are from a Wall Street Journal article (see link in Tweet) which shows the growth of the drug crisis in America since 1990.

In articles on this blog and the Tutor/Mentor blog I have pointed to this concept map, showing four actions that need to be taking place to help people solve complex problems that they are concerned with.  You can find this map here, and it's described in this presentation.

While my web library has many articles about poverty, and showing how to use GIS maps, it does not focus on the drug crisis, solution providers, and places where people are interacting and trying to figure out ways to reduce this plague.

This concept map shows the research sub sections in the Tutor/Mentor web library. Why are tutor/mentor programs needed? Where are they most needed?

If someone has a good web library focused on the drug crisis, with links to other resources beyond their own, share a link with me in the comment section and I'll add another node to this map, pointing to your site(s).

I'm sure that as we look at the maps, we'll see that some of the places I've been focusing on will be the same places where drugs are a problem.  However, we'll also see many places in smaller cities and towns where this is a huge problem.


This graphic shows a process that we need to be going through, in places all over the country. I describe it in this blog article and this presentation.  



As more communities and organizations begin to organize this process, we can connect with each other in online communities, enabling a sharing of ideas, identification of common problems, and innovation of solutions to solve these problems.

Perhaps that common bond will bring more of us together in efforts that find solutions.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Building Youth Support System - Role of Libraries, Hospitals

If you browse articles posted on this blog since 2008, and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute blog since 2005,  you'll see maps used to show areas of Chicago and other cities where youth and families need a wide range of extra support to help young people move through school and into adult lives free of poverty.

In many of these articles I focus on the proactive role that business, philanthropy, hospitals and other anchor organizations can take. In this article I'm going to illustrate this strategy, focusing on libraries and hospitals.

I'm using the New York City Public Library system as my example.

The map at the right shows locations of New York City Public Libraries. Click here to visit the site and zoom in on the map.  As with most cities, libraries are spread throughout the city.

This summer I connected with a New York City organization called IntegrateNYC4me, which engages young people in communication information about school segregation in New York City Public Schools. Here's the Research Page of their web site.  Below is a copy of their map, showing segregated schools in NYC.



I zoomed in on both maps, focusing on an area where there are a large number of segregated schools. Below are two maps showing the area between 125th St and 175th Street.  The map on the left s hows libraries in the area and the map on the right shows highly segregated public schools in the same area.


Students at each school in this map area could be building map views like this. They could do neighborhood research to learn about non school tutor/mentor programs located within a 1 mile (or half mile) radius of each library, then adding that information to the map, as I do with the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator Interactive map.  Such maps could also show other assets in the area, such as businesses, banks, faith groups, hospitals, colleges, etc., as well as political leaders who represent the area. This Asset Map section of the Program Locator enables users to build map views showing indicators of need, locations of existing tutor/mentor programs, and assets within the same map-area. (note - the Program Locator has not been funded since 2010, thus serves as a model for this example).


Each library could be partnering with youth groups, and volunteers from area businesses and/or colleges, to create maps and share this information, and to host meetings, to discuss the availability of non-school learning supports, or other resources, that would help kids in neighboring schools have better learning opportunities.   Such meetings can focus on information in the library, that shows the impact of poverty and segregation on the neighborhood and the wider NYC region, as well as information in web libraries like the one created by the T/MC since the early 1990s.  


ICONS placed on the library map and on the schools map could show which libraries have such a program in place. I put circles on the map above, to illustrate this.

Over a two to three period each library should have a program in place to fill the library neighborhood with rich learning resources. Foundations and government offices should have maps on their own web sites, showing where they are funding and supporting such efforts!  Maps in local media should be showing the growth of these efforts in high poverty areas, just as frequently as they show maps with the number of homicides in a city.

Students working with this project could also learn to do evaluation and recognition mapping.  The map at the right shows people who attended a Tutor/Mentor Conference in Chicago, with different icons showing the affiliation of the participant. The goal is that such events bring all of the stake-holders from the map area into on-going efforts that lead to more and better youth serving organizations in the area around every public library that operates in a poverty areas, or one with highly segregated and poorly resourced schools.

Putting participation information on the map is one task. Creating blog articles, media stories, podcasts and videos to give positive recognition to those who are involved in this effort is a second set of necessary actions.

Students, at the high school or college level, even Jr. High School level, could even be writing up process and "how we did it" reports, as part of on-going learning, and could be sharing strategies from one library-neighborhood with others, in NYC and in other cities, via cMOOCs organized around the Connected Learning (#clmooc) format. 

Here are a few more maps that illustrate this thinking: First is a map showing Brooklyn, NY public libraries and segregated schools. The map of all Brooklyn, NYC libraries can be found here.
This map shows locations of Chicago Public Libraries, with insets showing libraries on the South Side of Chicago.   The same process I describe for NYC could be taking place in Chicago and every other city with areas of highly concentrated, segregated poverty.  

The map below shows the location of Sinai Hospital, on Chicago's West side, within the 9th Illinois State Representative District. It's from a series of stories written in 2009 to show the role this hospital, or others in the map-area, could take to help mentor-rich programs grow in the areas surrounding it.


Another article showing Sinai Hospital, and a strategy that can fill the surrounding neighborhood with mentor-rich programs, can be found here.  An article showing how youth could use maps in stories following media coverage of violence in a neighborhood, can be found here.


Anyone can duplicate the stories I write. Most can do it better! Do it!


Teams of youth and volunteers, working with modern GIS technologies, can create similar map collections, showing indicators of need for extra help, and showing organizations already operating in the map-area, offering various forms of  help, and showing assets who could be providing more consistent help, since they also are part of the map-area.  This presentation shows how to use platforms like the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, to create  your own map stories.

Maps created by the Tutor/Mentor Connection from 1994-2011, do not focus on libraries, police stations, fire stations or other anchor organizations, but these are all institutions spread throughout a city, which could be leading community mapping and mobilization efforts intending to make their district the safest and best place to live, work and raise families.

If you'd like to explore these ideas further, let's connect. If you're already doing this, share your blog or web site address in the comment section below or on Twitter or Facebook.

If you'd like to sponsor the Program Locator and help the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC rebuild it's mapping capacity, visit this page.



Thursday, September 8, 2016

The nation's most chronically absent students

This set of maps shows that half of the students who are chronically absent from school are concentrated in just 4% of school districts.  
Click on the tab for "High Minority High Poverty Urban School Districts" and  you'll see that Chicago is included.

In past articles I've emphasized how big cities have unique challenges and opportunities and we should be connecting in on-line forums, blogs, Twitter chats, etc. to share ideas and innovate ways to generate the public will and flow of resources needed.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Using Maps to Build Awareness and Support for Solutions to Poverty


This map image comes from the diversity.data.kids.org web site and shows the child opportunity index for the Chicago region.

The lighter colored areas are neighborhoods where youth have less opportunities than in other places.

These are areas where non-school, volunteer-based tutoring, mentoring and learning organizations are most needed, along with many other poverty reduction solutions.

A nice feature of this site is that  you can create a map view of Chicago, Boston or another city, then save it as a jpg, using a feature built into the site. Then you can include the image in a blog like I've done here.

It's another example of how maps can be used to focus attention, and resources, on all of the high-needs areas of a big city like Chicago.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Uses of maps to plan business involvement

This article was first written in 2009 by Mike Traken, who was the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) map maker from 2008-2011. I've updated it for 2016.

Mike wrote, "I decided to focus on clearing up any possible confusion as to what we do at the T/MC. Because the work that the T/MC does is really complicated, multi-faceted, and potentially confusing at first.  What exactly does the T/MC want to accomplish? You can read about it... you can listen to us talk all day long... but maps give a visual to grab onto, and it's effective."

"Tutor/Mentor Connection" (TM/C) doesn't work with the kids directly in any single neighborhood (although from 1993-2011 it was part of a single program called Cabrini Connections).   Instead, it keeps a database of ALL T/M Programs operating in Chicago. . T/MC acts as a central directory where parents can find a program that specializes in their kids' needs (location, age group served, etc.)

But more! T/MC is looking to share ideas, goals, and strategies among all programs... an exchange of ideas - to ensure that existing programs maximize their growth/potential with their particular group of kids. Many documents geared toward this sharing these ideas exist in the T/MC's forums and in their web library - through the Tutor/Mentor Institute. Additionally, T/MC occasionally organizes a semi-annual conference to bring as many people together as possible to exchange ideas and information in person.

But more still! T/MC analyzes the program location data to determine where programs do NOT exist - where, among the most impoverished, high-need areas... where kids are lost in school and running the streets - do we need leadership in creating NEW T/M programs? What resources out there can host and/or finance these new programs... and what resources are available for getting the word out to people who do not even know these programs exist?

This is where maps are extremely helpful. This is what I do."

So, below are a few maps that Mike created, along with his description of the maps. Mike wrote:

First, the location of all Baptist Churches in Chicago. Notice how many are concentrated in high-poverty, high-need areas:

These churches and their congregations may not have the financial support needed to support the existing programs. But they would make great locations for NEW programs in neighborhoods where the school system is failing the children, and where these students desperately need additional tutoring and mentoring. And the church leaders here can broadcast the message to unknowing parents in the congregation, and make them aware that T/M services exist for their children's benefit.

Here's a map showing Lutheran Churches:

Of course, there are Lutheran congregations in high-poverty areas too - and these can serve many of the same functions as the Baptists. But, those in more affluent areas might want to help in other ways too. Perhaps members in the wealthier suburbs who commute, using highways that slice through the high-poverty areas, can take some time each week to volunteer as a mentor. Perhaps their places of employment have philanthropic money budgeted and would like to help contribute financially.

Of course, we here at T/MC have mapped the locations of many other Christian denominations, as well as the locations of Jewish, and Non-Judeo-Christian faiths. Mike simply chose these two as examples.

Next, is a map which illustrates how political leaders can organize resources in their districts, using the Illinois 14th Senate District map.



(click on the map above to see "full-sized")

This map shows the location of universities and hospitals which might have faculty/employees/students/leaders who want to work in a hosting, donating, or informational capacity... to support the kids who reside in the 14th district. Of course, we're not intending to single out the 14th district. This is just one district chosen to exemplify how the TM/C maps can help leaders in a given community organize their efforts to support tutoring and mentoring.

Ultimately the benefit is for everyone. Educated kids who get off the street, take a vested interest in a democracy, help participate in our local economies, and ultimately become leaders themselves... In many communities, some kids are afraid to leave their house, as the Sun-Times reports, due to the rampant frustration, hopelessness, and crime. The TM/C creates maps to supplement the negative news stories, looking for solutions through available resources in communities where crime is featured in the media:



(click on the map above to see "full-sized")
Sounds great, doesn't it? Who would oppose helping kids, families, and communities in need? 

Mike wrote, "When I first got here, I assumed maybe the business community would be a little removed and cold toward programs that do not immediately affect their bottom line.

I was wrong. Companies like CVS have a strong philanthropic presence in the community:"

So do many, if not all, of the Fortune 500/1000 companies in town:

And elite groups/organizations of professionals, such as lawyers:

Law firms, businesses, other professionals - many see that investing in the area's impoverished communities can help build new markets, replenish struggling markets, and groom new employees, for the benefit of the local economy and in the fight against crime. These organizations are invaluable sources of desperately-needed revenue, volunteers, and information-sharing for T/M programs everywhere. TM/C wants to create new partnerships and inspire more participation among professionals/businessmen everywhere.

Browse articles written from 2008 through mid 2011 that show more examples of maps and how they can be used.

Unfortunately, due to the financial crisis that started in late 2007 and still has a negative impact, the Tutor/Mentor Connection was not able to continue to fund the map making position after 2010 and new maps like these have not been created since then.

In addition, the on-line program locator, created in 2008, which has been used to make maps like the ones shown below, has also not had funding since 2009, thus it's not been updated and some features no longer work..

Since 2011 this blog has shared map stories created using the Program Locator, and has pointed to new map platforms hosted by others, which can also be used to make map stories.  It would be a great project for a company, and company team, to adopt the Tutor/Mentor Connection and become a partner with the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, so these resources can be updated, and made available in cities across the world.

If interested, let's connect. Find me on Twitter @tutormentorteam or Linkedin or Facebook.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Race Riots Hit Milwaukee - Missed Opportunity

Pent up anger has now been unleashed in Milwaukee, following a police shooting. This follows Ferguson, MO, and Baltimore. What city will be next?

I started the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in Chicago in 1993 with a goal of helping volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring programs grow in high poverty neighborhoods.  I used a quarterly newsletter to share this vision and to share information from my web library. In the mid 1990s I was invited by the Milwaukee Foundation to add about a dozen organizations from Milwaukee to the distribution list, which I did.  In the following years I met with leaders from Milwaukee, and people representing Milwaukee programs came to Chicago for the spring and fall Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences.

However, this never led to adoption of the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy in Milwaukee.  It's never been adopted in Chicago, either.

Below is a map that shows the racial concentrations in Milwaukee. I've pointed to this mapping platform below, showing racial distribution in Chicago.

If someone in Milwaukee were leading a T/MC strategy they would be able to produce a map like this, with overlays showing locations of non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs.  Using that map the would be leading a year-round marketing campaign intended to draw volunteers and donors to existing programs, while helping groups create new programs where more are needed. They would have people meeting regularly to share ideas and they would have people connecting with programs in Chicago and other cities to borrow ideas from more places.

The first map below was created using the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, which the T/MC built in 2008, but which has not been funded since 2010. It's a model that should be duplicated. It is also a starting point for people who want to partner in stead of starting from scratch.


This second map is from a Brookings.edu article, showing cities around the country with the same problems as Milwaukee, Chicago, Baltimore, etc. I wrote about it here.

Leaders in everyone of these cities should be reading this article that I shared on the I-Open Blog, which focuses on the Cleveland, OH area.

If you cannot answer "YES, We do." you should be creating a team to begin digging into the ideas I have been sharing for the past 20 years, and you should be inviting me to meet with you to help you understand and apply those ideas.

It's not a quick fix.  But you don't want to look back in a few years an say "I wish we had done that."

8-21-16 UPDATE:  Here's a New  York Times article titled "Affluent and Black, and Still Trapped by Segregation".   In addition, here is a concept map showing the research section of the Tutor/Mentor web library, which included many articles related to place, race and poverty.   Until many more people are reading these articles, and combining their learning with direct interaction across race and poverty boundaries, too few will have enough information or commitment to actually find solutions.